The Migrant Crisis: Compassion and Common Sense

Other than the large numbers involved, one of the most striking features of Europe’s migrant crisis is the level of discourse surrounding it. There is an emotionalism about the subject which doesn’t seem quite appropriate to the gravity of the situation. Momentous issues are being decided on the basis of what Peter Hitchens calls “an emotional spasm.”

That’s not to say the plight of refugees shouldn’t call up emotions. The problem comes when news analysts, government officials, and church representatives present the situation as a Dickensian dilemma which leaves one with no choice other than to side with Scrooge or with Tiny Tim.

The clinching argument for many was the image of a drowned Syrian child that went viral. There should, of course, be no doubt about what to do if you spot a drowning boy in the water, or if a hungry person shows up at the door. But the photo tells us absolutely nothing about what sort of immigration policies governments should adopt. It could be argued that if European immigration policy were less liberal, and its welfare allowances less generous, fewer people would risk their lives to get there.

And what about the images we don’t see—images of the European victims of ill-considered immigration programs? Right now I’m looking at a photo of an 87-year-old Dutch man lying in a hospital bed, his face beaten black and blue. He and his 86-year-old wife, both of them Holocaust survivors, were attacked in their apartment by two men of Moroccan descent who threw them on the floor, kicked them repeatedly, and shouted: “Dirty Jews! From now on, your property is ours.” The husband and wife, who had been living independently, are now confined to wheelchairs at a rehabilitation center.

Such photos aren’t featured on the evening news. Nor are the photos of bruised and bloodied rape victims in Sweden—which, thanks to Muslim immigration, is now the rape capital of the Northern Hemisphere. In Rotherham, England, Pakistani gangs raped 1,400 teenaged girls over a fifteen-year period—but you would have to do some searching before you’d find any stories about the plight of the victims. That’s because the story doesn’t fit the standard narrative about peaceful Muslims seeking a better life and good schools for their children.

There are many such people, of course. But, as is now clear, the great majority within the current wave of migrant-refugees are young, single men. The media still favors close-ups of Madonna-like women with children, but the wide-angle lens presents quite a different view.

The big picture is that we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of Europe. Historians and journalists have been writing about the coming Islamization of Europe for some time now, but as years pass, the timeline keeps moving up. The original forecasts predicted the Muslim takeover of the continent would happen sometime within this century; next, the day of reckoning was moved up to the mid-century mark; and then, as the picture became clearer, to circa 2030. Now, with the new flood of migrants, another revision may be in order. Michel Houellenbecq’s new novel, Submission, forecasts the election of a Muslim president in France in 2022.

Though the media tends to treat the immigration crisis as something from out of the blue, it has been building for years. When combined with high birth rates for Muslims and collapsing birth rates for native Europeans, it spells a massive transformation of European culture. Some would say that the transformation is intentional. In their 2009 book, Modern Day Trojan Horse: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration, Sam Solomon and Elias Al Maqdisi point out that, historically, Muslims have used migration as a tool of conquest. In a 1974 speech at the United Nations, former Algerian president Houari Boumedienne predicted:

One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere.… And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it.

In light of the threat to European civilization, it is strange that so many commentators see the crisis mainly as an opportunity for welcoming the Other, overcoming irrational fears, and proving one’s compassion. Unfortunately, Catholic leaders seem to have joined this one-sided chorus of voices. Take, for example, comments by Fr. Matthew Gardzinski, who is in charge of the migrants’ section for the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. In an interview with Catholic News Agency, Fr. Gardzinski expresses a rather rosy view of migrants. “While one country loses the persons who migrate,” he notes, “the receiving country gains their ideas and creativity.” He seems, however, to have a less sanguine view of Europeans. According to the article, he is concerned about “xenophobic, restrictive, or fearful attitudes.” What stands behind the fear? “Is it really something objective,” he asks, “or is it something more subjective, because I feel threatened, or challenged?”

“Is it really something objective?” Fr. Gardzinski might try asking the rape victims in Rotherham or Sweden. His concern, however, is not with existential realities, but with psychological states. He sees Europe’s migration crisis as being more in the nature of an identity crisis—“the challenge to build your own identity” along multicultural lines. Presumably, that’s to be done by overcoming one’s irrational fears (“Islamophobia” in the lingo of psychology). The point he misses is, that this is not a crisis of identity for Europe, it’s a crisis of survival—a crisis that could very well result in the end of Christianity on the continent.

Many Catholic leaders have cast the refugee situation as a case of compassion versus intolerance. It’s much more complicated than that. But just as it’s difficult to ignore the image of the drowned boy, it’s difficult to argue with reminders that the Holy Family were refugees in Egypt, that the Jews were admonished to love the foreigner “because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt,” and that Christ told his disciples that in welcoming a stranger they were welcoming him.

But what if there are 44 million strangers in the land? That’s the estimated number of Muslims living in Europe (including Russia) as of 2010. Some of them are well-integrated into European society, but many others are not. They live in “no-go” zones; their women wear burqas; they speak Arabic, or Farsi, or Turkish; and their first allegiance is not to Germany or France, but to the ummah (the global Muslim community). Though they may have lived in Europe for years, they are still, in effect, strangers. Many seem unacquainted with Western standards of right and wrong—like the Muslim man in the UK who, after raping a thirteen-year-old girl, was spared a prison sentence when he explained to the judge that he didn’t know it was illegal.

Peter Hitchens recently observed that many of Europe’s “most influential people are set on committing a sentimental national suicide.” European and American elites seem to think that the only question at issue in the current crisis is “Will Europeans be compassionate?” But other crucial questions need to be asked, such as “Will Europe survive as Europe?”

Another question to ask is this: “Will Christianity in Europe survive the combination of Muslim immigration and European naïveté?” It’s true that the Church has a duty to remind Christians of their obligation to help the needy, but is there a Christian duty to collaborate in the destruction of Christianity? To ask whether European Christianity can survive might seem to be an overly alarmist question. Yet it was a question that was ever present to Europeans in past centuries—particularly those who lived on the southern and eastern borders.

It’s no coincidence that Eastern Europeans are more resistant to Islamic immigration than those living in the West. Poles, Slovaks, and Hungarians have a long history of struggle with Muslim invaders. It’s estimated, for example, that Muslims enslaved a million persons from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries.

If that seems like ancient history, consider that it was only twenty-five years ago that the East Europeans broke free of Communist rule. Having recently been enslaved by one totalitarian ideology, they are not anxious to repeat the experience with another oppressive system. As the Poles and Hungarians understand, caliphs and commissars can be equally unpleasant. Their recent subjugation by Communist overlords has no doubt refreshed their memories of earlier invaders.

One wonders what it will take to remind the Catholic Church of its own centuries-long struggle with Islam. The modern Church was quick to understand the totalitarian nature of communism. Catholic clergy, academics, and journalists were, on the whole, much more astute about the Communist menace than their secular counterparts. Yet they have been painfully slow in awakening to the dangers inherent in Islam. Let’s hope that will soon change.

(Photo credit: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

William Kilpatrick

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William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com

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